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Getting the balance right

It is a fine balance between healthy eating and healthy indulgence.  Recognising the difference could change your life.

LooRosemary Writes March 2005king after your body is pretty similar to looking after your bank balance. You know what you should be doing to keep your weight in check and you know how much you have to spend each month to stay “in the black”. It all sounds so easy until ugly, deceitful, temptation comes your way.

But those beautiful leather boots in the shop window seem to have your name on them. You tell yourself that if you buy them they will make you feel good and your life will be better. Or you see a scrumptious cake or chocolate bar and honestly believe that if you eat it, it will cheer you up and make your life great again. After all, you’re worth it!

Have you EVER bought something that HAS changed your life? Have you ever eaten something really indulgent and afterwards been really glad that you did? I doubt it. The problem is that we dream about the benefits of indulgence but are almost always disappointed. We must realise that everything has a cost. There is always a price to pay. And nine times out of ten it just isn’t worth it.

Life-Balance

Now, I’m not saying that we don’t deserve a treat occasionally. Of course we do. But if we are to achieve true contentment with ourselves we must get our life-balance right. It only takes one area to be completely off course to ruin our happiness and being overweight and unfit can definitely do that. Nothing compares to the contentment we can experience if our bodies are well. Ironically, we don’t appreciate it until we are unwell. Yet being fit and healthy is within the grasp of most of

Do not underestimate how good you will feel when you have lost your excess weight. Imagine having energy to spare at the end of the day. See yourself walking into a fashion store and all the clothes that you try on actually fitting! Picture yourself being the slim mum outside the school gates. Imagine yourself in later years, fully fit to live a happy, active and independent life. This is priceless.

You may be tempted to try different types of diets, but whether it is the South Beach, Atkins, Cabbage Soup or Slimfast, one overwhelming fact remains the same. You will only lose weight if you are eating fewer calories than your body burns each day. And you will only sustain that weight loss if you cease eating more calories than you need – not just now but also in the future. As soon as you eat more food than you burn, your weight will creep back on. That’s a given.

So, how can we motivate ourselves to avoid temptation and how can we learn to recognise when we have eaten enough?

Try these five simple rules and make them part of your life.
  1. Look at your current eating habits. Do you eat breakfast? Do you eat anything between meals? Do you clear up the left-overs because you don’t like waste? Breakfast is a very important meal and, even if you can only face eating a banana at 10 o’clock, that’s fine. It’s much better than skipping this important meal and then having a high-fat snack at 11 o’clock because you’re hungry. Put a stop to your snacking and if you can’t face throwing left-over food away, get someone else to do it!
  2. Stop cooking or preparing food with oil or fat of any kind. Oil is 100% fat – the same as lard – and adds nothing to the “filling power” of the food you eat. It just adds loads of fattening calories. Learn to dry-fry in a non-stick pan – it works brilliantly – and always remember to use a wooden spatula, not a metal one, to avoid scratching the non-stick surface. When making sandwiches put some low-fat sauce straight on to the bread and avoid all butters and spreads. Use balsamic vinegar and black pepper in salads rather than olive oil.
  3. Watch your portion sizes. It is so easy to get into the habit of increasing your portion size without realising it. Weigh out your food when you first start on your diet and then find a simple measure like a cup or mug to accurately gauge your helping. Try my amazing Nutri-scales for totally accurate calorie calculations (see www.rosemaryconley.com).
  4. To lose weight you need to DO more and eat less. It’s that simple. Every time you go for a walk, work out to a fitness video, go to a class, do housework or even just walk up stairs, you are burning extra calories. Do these things regularly and you will be taking the very best action possible to speed up your weight-loss progress AND get fitter. Realise that exercise doesn’t just burn calories at the time, it trains your body to burn more calories when you stop, too! If you don’t like formal exercise, just go for a walk. Try and go at a decent pace rather then just taking a stroll – to make a real difference, your body should be working hard enough to be getting warm and a little out of breath. Aim to do this three to five times a week for 20–30 minutes. Do this and you will transform your body and your shape faster than you would believe.
  5. And finally, learn to say no. Whether it be somebody’s birthday cake, a packet of crisps kindly offered or an unnecessary biscuit mid-morning, get into the habit of saying “no” without feeling you will offend. Just refuse very politely. Your friends will soon learn you are making a real effort and will respect that. You don’t have to feel ashamed. Feel proud instead!

No-one in the world can make you lose weight and become fitter. You have to make the decision yourself, but when you do, and begin to experience the benefits, there will be no turning back. Enjoy the journey.

This article appears in the March 2005 issue of Rosemary Conley Diet & Fitness magazine.  

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